Senator Dick Durbin visits the New Philadelphia National Historic Site.

August 10. 2023 Barry, IL: The New Philadelphia Association (NPA) hosted a visit by  Senator Dick Durbin at the New Philadelphia National Historic Site near Barry, Illinois on  August 7, 2023. New Philadelphia was the first town in the United States founded and  legally registered by an African American, Free Frank McWorter. 

 Senator Durbin, along with Senator Tammy Duckworth and Congressman Darin LaHood spearheaded and staunchly supported the bi-partisan legislation signed by  President Biden in December of 2022 which made New Philadelphia the 424TH unit of  the National Park Service. 

 NPA President Phillip Bradshaw welcomed Senator Durbin who met with members  of the New Philadelphia Association, including Gerald McWorter, Vice President, who is  a great-great grandson of Free Frank. Mike Ward and Tim Good from the National Park  Service were also in attendance.  

 Bradshaw thanked Senator Durbin for his unwavering support of the bipartisan effort  to become a unit of the National Park Service and gave a brief overview of the site’s  history as a place where 30 years before the Civil War people of different colored skin  lived together, worked together and went to school together.  

 Gerald McWorter shared his perspective as a descendant of Free Frank, who not  only bought his own freedom and that of his family members but helped others to  freedom as part of the Underground Railroad. McWorter stated that the story of New  Philadelphia is a story of freedom, which has evolved from a family story to a story for  the nation.  

 Senator Durbin commended the New Philadelphia Association for its dedication and  stewardship of the site and called New Philadelphia “an amazing story”. He also  encouraged NPA to continue to tell the story, the whole story.  

 “We should know our history, the truth of it, even if painful,” Durbin said. “With the  New Philadelphia National Historic Site, Illinois has an opportunity to tell the amazing 

truth of the history of the first town established and platted by an African American prior  to the Civil War. I will tell my kids and grandkids so they understand what we’ve been  through as a Nation and the amazing stories, like New Philadelphia, that broke the  mold. We must continue to preserve, honor, and share the story of New Philadelphia  with each generation to come.” 

 Mike Ward, National Park Service deputy regional director for facilities and  operations, announced that the certification of the land and insurance on all the titles  was expected to be competed that day, allowing the process of the acquisition of the  land to continue. The next step is an environmental site assessment.  

 Before leaving New Philadelphia, Senator Durbin viewed the wayside exhibits and  pollinator garden at the kiosk, and experienced the Augmented Reality Walking Trail, an  innovative self-guided tour of the site. 

 The support of Senator Durbin and the National Park Service designation  acknowledge the contributions of African Americans to our country’s history. As a place  where African Americans lived and worked alongside European Americans during an  era of extreme racial strife, New Philadelphia, the story of founder Frank McWorter and  his family will inspire present and future generations.